Three men accused of distributing anabolic steroids to athletes received court sentences last week, and all got off relatively lightly on the charges. In San Diego Richard Anthony (Tony) Fitton, a former strength coach at Auburn once described by a federal prosecutor as being possibly the biggest steroid dealer in the world (SI, May 13), was sentenced to 4½ years in prison and five years probation for conspiracy to import steroids, for bail-jumping, tax evasion and "possession of document-making [i.e., forging] implements." In Nashville, former Vanderbilt strength coach E.J. (Doc) Kreis and pharmacist M. (Woody) Wilson, who had been indicted for illegally selling about 100,000 doses of anabolic steroids to athletes, primarily in football and track and field, at Vanderbilt, Clemson and Colgate, were given one year of unsupervised probation: Most charges against them had been dropped because of technicalities and plea bargaining.
Fitton had pleaded guilty last February to two counts of steroid trafficking but then fled for six months. Last week he faced a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and/or a $30,000 fine on the steroid charges. Instead, he was given 30 months imprisonment and no fine. A ledger book filed in the case indicates that Fitton continued to be involved in heavy steroid trafficking in the months following his original November 1984 arrest. Among 96 names on Fitton's ledger are Todd Carpenter, a junior offensive tackle on Nebraska's football team, and John Campbell, last year's NCAA outdoor shotput champion from Louisiana Tech. Carpenter is listed as having ordered $280 worth of steroids from Fitton on Feb. 13, 1985; contacted on Sunday, Carpenter said he had never heard of Fitton or bought steroids. Campbell, who is listed as having paid Fitton $1,198 for steroids on Feb. 14, 1985, said he had never purchased steroids from Fitton.
Kreis and Wilson were indicted on eight and 90 counts, respectively, of steroid trafficking and initially pleaded not guilty to the charges. It was then discovered that the statute of limitations had expired on many of the charges. Kreis and Wilson each pleaded guilty on Nov. 18 to a misdemeanor charge of selling Dianabol, a popular anabolic steroid. The sentencings last week seemed a rather weak warning message to those who sell illegal drugs to athletes.
LET'S FIT STEINBRENNER IN THE TRUNK
New York fans bemoan losing teams—especially their own. Hence the latest Big Apple bumper sticker: GO RANGERS—AND TAKE THE KNICKS WITH YOU.
DINNER FOR 11?
Noisy football crowds have stirred a clamorous debate this fall. Iowa coach Hayden Fry, for one, has suggested the use of sideline sound meters to determine when a home crowd is disrupting an opponent's offensive signals. But just how loud is an average crowd?
Acting on Fry's idea, SI took sound readings two weeks ago in Iowa City during Iowa's Rose Bowl—clinching 31-9 win over Minnesota and found that the crowd's cheering actually peaked before kickoff. The reading when Fry's Hawk-eyes came onto the field was 102 decibels, about the equivalent of a circular saw. During the game the noise on a typical snap by either team hovered at about 85 decibels—roughly as loud as a vacuum cleaner. The roar swelled to 94 decibels—louder than a passing motorcycle—when the Gophers tried for a crucial first down, but remained politely in the mid-80s for key Iowa snaps.
It was all quite noisy, but players and coaches shouldn't complain. According to measurements reported recently in New York magazine, 102 decibels is no louder than the top noise level in several of Manhattan's more bustling restaurants.
AND DON'T FORGET DESSERT
Speaking of which, Boston College's 255-pound noseguard, Mike Ruth, dined out with his father in a Boston suburb the other night. After taking an order of one salad bar, a surf-and-turf, a spaghetti dinner and a veal dinner, the waitress turned to go to the kitchen. "Hold on," said Tom Ruth. "I'd like to order, too."
Hoping to cast some favorable light on the Saints' 5-8 season, New Orleans station WWL-TV has been naming a Pride Player of the Week after every game. The winner gets a free round-trip on New Orleans-based Pride Airlines. There's one minor problem: Pride stopped flying on Nov. 15 because of financial troubles.
WILL THIS STROKE WASH?
Call him eccentric, but Michel Juteau of Montreal is trying to convince the world that it needs a new swimming stroke. Juteau, a phys ed teacher with a longtime interest in swimming, has devised a hellaciously difficult stroke called the "flip-butterfly," which he's been promoting to national swim federations. The stroke combines elements of freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke and butterfly—especially the latter two—and, according to Juteau, would appeal to fans and swimmers alike. "The coming generation of swimmers will profit from our 'avantgardiste' action," Juteau says.
In the flip-butterfly, a swimmer launches himself with a backstroke start, but turns sideways as he comes to the surface. Both arms are extended overhead. While rhythmically undulating his body in butterfly-stroke fashion, he digs both hands into the water and propels himself forward. He then spins 180 degrees to his opposite side and repeats the movements. The stroke's side-to-side motion is not unlike the churning of a washing machine; Juteau warns that "swimmers will probably feel some dizziness at first."
For all his good intentions, however, Juteau is swimming into a veritable sea of doubters. "We got a good chuckle when we first saw his proposal," says associate editor Karen Crouse of Swimming World magazine. "If it had been postmarked April 1, I would have dismissed the whole thing as a joke."
Last week Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis signed a bill making hazing of students in the state's schools punishable by fines of up to $1,000 and 100 days in jail. At first, you might question the need for such an action. Then you learn of the ugly situation surrounding the Lowell High hockey team and you're glad Dukakis signed the bill.
Under Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association rules, no high school can hold hockey practice until the Monday after Thanksgiving. Nevertheless, the Lowell team held several "captain's practices" this fall. These unofficial sessions directly violated association regulations. After one of these practices, Lowell sophomores Michael DiGiovanni and Michael Cederberg were initiated as varsity team members. They were beaten by five teammates, all seniors, and suspended by their jocks on hooks in the locker room. DiGiovanni suffered bruised ribs and kidneys and won't play hockey this winter. Cederberg suffered a bruised abdomen but will be able to play. The five seniors told a special Lowell school committee meeting that they had all undergone similar initiation rites at past captain's practices. They said that Lowell's coach of 10 years, William Robinson, had also been at the practice, although he had left before the hazing started. The five players have been kicked off the team, and Robinson resigned last week.
IT MUST BE A TRADE PUBLICATION
Call up the home of veteran pitcher Jim Slaton, most recently of the Angels, and you'll hear a message on the answering machine from Slaton's two children, Jennifer and Jonathan: "Daddy is reading the paper trying to find out where he'll be pitching next year."
Canadian racer Jacques Villeneuve, known for his hell-bent—and fender-bent—driving style, recently lost his tire-company sponsor. In reporting this, a sportscaster for CBC-TV, a Canadian national network, joked that a certain wall at Indy is now known as "the Jacques absorber."
HER TALENT IS REVOLUTIONARY
Sandy (Spin) Slade was an eighth-grader in Solon Springs, Wis. when she became enchanted with the idea of spinning basketballs. "I saw a woman at camp who spun four balls at a time on arrow tips," says Slade, now a senior guard at Fresno State. "I was totally amazed. I went home and started putting, like, pencils between my toes and trying to spin balls on them. At the time it seemed impossible."
But Slade worked at her ball-twirling skills as much as four hours a day in high school, and now, as the photo above indicates, is able to keep seven basketballs spinning at once. First, she tapes arrow tips to both shoes, dons Velcro knee straps with arrow tips sewed into them and puts in a special rubber mouthpiece. Then, in order, she gets balls spinning on her left foot, right foot, left knee, right knee, mouth, left hand and right hand. "It takes about 30 to 40 seconds to get them all going," she says, "and I hold them for about five seconds." The spinning display is part of a 30-minute ball-handling show that Slade has performed throughout the country. Among other things, she can also dribble three balls behind her back at the same time. Slade isn't bad with just one ball either. She's averaging 10 points per game this season for the Bulldogs. But she's eager to graduate and take her show on the road full-time. "I want to go out and perform wherever I can," she says. "I really love to do it."
THEY SAID IT
•Tom McVie, coach of the AHL Maine Mariners, on the cramped hotel room he occupied during a team road trip: "It was so small that when I stuck the key in the lock I broke the window."
•Mitch Kupchak, L.A. Lakers center-forward, discussing championship rings: "Personally, I want something I can melt down if I have to."
•Jack Lemmon, the actor: "If you think it's hard to meet new people, try picking up the wrong golf ball."